Trend: BDSM


Vintage magazine covers
 Fetish glamour and BDSM style has conquered the fashion world for this winter appearing everywhere: from catwalks, to glossy magazines like LOVE and Vogue, to dazzling celebrity parties. We have to admit that, although this style has started from underground communities and is considered as a no-no social behaviour by most people, is still quite appealing to all of us. Many major fashion houses like Louis Vuitton, Alexander McQueen, Givenchy, even soft-style Michael Kors featured kinky accessories and styles that made many blush. Handcuffs, stiletto heels, leather collars and harnesses, officer caps, long gloves and stockings and a high dose of PVC styled with extravagant gowns, chic bags and “see-how-rich-I am” fur coats have been running in the world fashion market longing to become a part of every wannabe mistress’ wardrobe. We really love this style, we buy it, we wear it. But, do we know what it means?

Louis Vuitton F/W 2011-12
 BDSM is an erotic practice and expression involving the use of restraint and fantasy role playing, with the roles of master and slave as the most common. Originated from the rituals performed in ancient Sparta and by Etruscans, the Kama Sutra and the notorious books of Marquis de Sade, to the stories of naughty Bettie Page and the erotic pictures of Helmut Newton, BDSM has been one of the most controversial subjects in human sexual behaviour. Its name derives from the terms bondage and discipline, dominance and submission and sadism and masochism, involving interpersonal activities where the persons involved are divided in two categories, tops or dominants and bottoms or submissives, depending on their role in these peculiar relationships.

Clockwise from left: Surgery collar, bondage cuffs, slave mask, leather bondage harness
As in most subcultures, BDSM has its own special dressing style and accessorizing with very specific definitions and symbolisms. One of its most known accessories is the slave collar, usually made of leather with a ring attached, used by bottoms as a symbol of ownership to their tops indicating that they are in a steady relationship. This kind of relationships usually have a contract, a written agreement between the two parts, referring not only to their erotic life, but everyday life as well. Other accessories like handcuffs, whips or asphyxia masks are used in the power exchange game, too. Another widely used accessory, very popular in the German BDSM scene,  is the ring of O, named after the well-known novel and film Story of O heroine. People indicate by wearing such rings that they are interested in BDSM and by the hand they are wearing it on whether they are a top or a bottom.

Alexander McQueen F/W 2011-12
Left: AtomAge magazine. Right: Bettie Page
 Dominatrix is a word that has so much been written in fashion spreads with concepts of powerful, ultra sexy women, mostly wearing black killer outfits. The word dates back to at least 1561, however the term Dominatrix is first portrayed in the 1870 novel Venus in Furs. In BDSM culture, a Dominatrix has the leading role in a masochistic relationship, with outfits that mostly refer to strong female archetypes, including the goddess, the superheroine, the femme fatale, the secret agent, the priestess, the empress or the queen. However the most famous Dominatrix outfit is the catsuit, first seen during the 50’s in the pages of notorious AtomAge magazine, inspiring various TV series like the Avengers and comic characters like the Catwoman. The look is complimented with long opera gloves, suspender belts, sky-high stiletto heels and fishnet stockings, all intended to elongate the silhouette, reinforcing the game “look by do not touch”.

Michael Kors F/W 2011-12
 Last but not least, the Bondage  has been the talk of the fashion world lately, with What Lies Beneath shooting by Mert& Marcus for LOVE magazine and the amazing collaboration of Nobuyoshi Araki with Japanese magazine Reality Show, featuring bound models, as the latest examples of this special technique that tends to become mainstream. But bondage has also inspired many other art fields, paintings, cartoons, poems, music, films and theatrical plays, like Rembrandt’s “Andromeda Chained to the Rocks”, Bizarre magazine published by bondage artist John Willie from 1946 to 1959 and Madonna’s book “Sex”, just to name a few. Studies have shown that bondage is the second most common human erotic fantasy involving the restraint subject in situations like rape, abduction or humiliation. Except rope that is mostly preferred for its flexibility, other garments that are used in bondage are leather harnesses, chains, gags, straps, cuffs or even special sleepsacks, wraps or cling film for mummification. Of course, all is based on the Master-Slave game mentioned above, with the bottom subject been restrained in various locations like beds, tables, ceilings or public areas.

Givenchy F/W 2011-12

From left: Slave collar, ring of O, BDSM mask

 Sex has always been a great way for selling products and designers know and use this very well. The BDSM movement has been mythical and tabu to most people, so after the indications of big fashion houses, a woman with an ordinary or even no sexual life sees her fantasies of becoming an erotic heroine or a slave become true, even by holding just a clutchbag. Mr Jacobs says that he attached handcuffs to Louis Vuitton’s clutches to indicate the close relationship of a woman with her bags, but would you like to express that you are a bottom or a top when you are actually not? Or is it the personal mind game that evokes thoughts and choices like that? That’s up to you.

Left: Emanuel Ungaro F/W 2011-12. Right: Giles F/W 2011-12

 Image selection from: Style.com, leatheretc.com, givenchy.com


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